In 1965, hopes were high for artificial hearts

Excerpt from the October 2, 1965, issue of Science News Letter

heart diagrams

TAKE HEART  An artificial heart (left) can replace the blood-pumping chambers of a human heart. 

SynCardia Systems, Inc

Artificial heart readied — An artificial heart could be pumping inside a human chest within five years…. [A device] implanted in the heart cavity of a calf, keeping the animal alive nearly 24 hours, consisted of a lucite shell housing both left and right ventricles…. The complete heart apparatus should closely resemble a real heart in weight, size and shape.  — Science News Letter, October 2, 1965


The first artificial heart wasn’t implanted until 1982 (SN: 12/11/82, p. 372). The plastic-and-aluminum device, known as the Jarvik-7, was attached to a 400-pound air compressor and kept a heart failure patient alive for 112 days. Today, two devices are approved to serve as the body’s blood pump. Unfortunately, the devices are too large for many young or petite people. This year, an experimental artificial heart that’s nearly 30 percent smaller than the most commonly used device kept a woman alive for three weeks, until she received a transplant. 

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